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Is my teen using drug?

Expert advice on helping your teenager avoid drug and alcohol abuse

The stress of parenting a teenager

A lot of teens have secrets, and a lot of teens lie.  This gives parents panic attacks around 3 am.  What can parents do? How do you know if your son or daughter is abusing drugs?

First of all, don’t follow the advice from the movies.  In the movies, cool parents try to build their relationships with their teens by telling them, “I trust you,” and then leaving them alone for the weekend.  Teenage brains are still developing and maturing. They need small opportunities to build trust AND they need a lot of oversight. The key to parenting teens is to strike a balance between trust and oversight. 

The best parents give their kids just enough freedom to learn to make good decisions, or to make mistakes and then learn from it. However, parents shouldn’t give their kids enough limits to prevent a life altering mistake. With teenage overdose deaths at all time highs, it’s important to get the balance of freedom and oversight right.

Trust but Verify

Like the famous Russian proverb, the best plan is “Trust, but Verify”. At Healing Grove, we offer parents the ability to regularly test their kids for drugs. When the drug test comes back negative, it builds trust between parents and teenagers. As a teenager proves that they can make good decisions, parents can give them more freedom. If a drug test comes back positive, then the parent knows that it’s time to draw stricter limits. A drug test is a great way to definitively learn if your teenager is using drugs.

Start with honesty

Start by building a culture of honesty in the home.  Be honest with them.  Tell them how you have made mistakes.  The best stories are about the hilarious and embarrassing mistakes you made as a teen, and why you now regret or celebrate those mistakes.  How did the mistakes change you?  Make it clear that mistakes are expected and forgiveness will happen again and again in your home.  Let them know that you will love them no matter what, but they will also receive consequences along with the love.

Talk about drugs and alcohol in your family

Tell them the truth about your expectations around sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.  Every family is a little bit different here, and it is extremely surprising how few teens know what their house rules are.  I straight up ask them in the exam room after I kick out the parents.  Here are some examples:

  • “When can someone in your family start dating?”  What does dating look like?  Is it serious dating 1:1 long term?  Or just going bowling once?  This one needs a series of long conversations and it should be really clear.  Some families allow dating after a certain age, like 15 or 18.  Some allow teens to go on “dates” with groups of friends but do not allow serious dating until much later.  Some expect the couple to discuss their relationship with the family before making a decision to date seriously.  
  • “What are your family’s expectations around sex?”  Is casual sex ok?  Committed partner sex?  Only after marriage? Talk about it!
  • Do you have expectations around alcohol use?  Do you follow the law, wait until age 21?  Do you follow healthy limits based on what the liver can handle (14 drinks per week for a male, 7 drinks per week for a female, no more than 5 drinks per 24 hours)?  Do you have strong alcoholism genes in your family that you need Junior to be aware of? Has alcoholism impacted you in any way?  
  • Drug use patterns have altered in recent years.  It is important to talk about all forms of mind-altering substances, as many people are advocating for their use as “healthy” but they are clearly not good for the developing brains of a teenager.  A google search will not give your teen reliable information – it needs to come from you. As a parent it’s important to learn about commonly abused drugs.
  • There are plenty of other addictive behaviors that people can develop – gambling addictions, phone addictions, TikTok, and more.  Make sure your teens understand your position on all of these things.  Talk about why you draw the lines where you do.  These kids are developmentally able to understand gray areas better than the old black and white elementary school kids, so they will need more explanations.

These discussions should start as early as possible.  It is ideal if the 9 year old knows what the family’s expectations are around simple topics like dating and alcohol.  

What to do when your teen is using drugs?

Even the best kids can make mistakes, however, and sometimes you just have that adventurous soul who has to try everything for herself.  What do you do then? My simple advice: Take Action. It’s easy to get stuck in worry or be paralyzed by fear. A teenager abusing drugs or alcohol is a call for action from their parent. They need their parent to step in and help them learn how to deal with their hurts and hangups until they can achieve sobriety.

The response should match the severity

It’s important that you determine the risk level of your child’s behavior. Is your child at risk of overdosing? Is your child at risk of self harm? Is your child experimenting? By understanding the risk, you can tailor a response that is line with the teenager’s behavior.

But how do you gauge the risk? What are the best solutions from a medical, social and spiritual perspective? This is where professional help comes in!

True Healing at Healing Grove!

I recommend bringing your teen in for an appointment.  At Healing Grove, we take our time – we can do 30-60 minute appointments to talk about everything.  I can have private conversations with your teen, and then I have in-house drug tests.  We will get results in minutes.  We work together to make goals of how to quit using substances, how to talk to parents about what is going on and how to invite the family into the healing process.  Unlike many clinics, we have a unique mix of confidentiality for the teen and encouragement to collaborate with the family.  We can offer in-house counseling when needed as well at on additional cost.  Our docs are trained in addiction medicine as well as primary care and we have a lot of experience working with people with addictions.

Don’t just sit there with your suspicions and fears.  Book an appointment today and help your loved one find freedom again! Learn more at https://healinggrove.org/sanjose/how-it-works/

Try Healing Grove out! Schedule an appointment today!

Questions?  Call or text us at 408.459.4443.

The Healing Grove Advantage

Annual Health Care Exam

Every year, you receive an extended visit with your personal Healing Grove doctor. We help you strive toward holistic wellness through our intensive health and spiritual care.

Your personal doctor guides you through a comprehensive health and soul care assessment, helping you develop a plan to become the very best version of yourself!

Spiritual Care

We understand you’re more than a machine. You are a complex mix of body, soul, mind, machine, and heart.

Our physicians come from the Christian faith tradition. We provide equal doses of medications and prayer, physical treatments and spiritual care. Whatever your faith tradition, you’ll be welcomed and comfortable here.

Connected To Your Doctor, 24/7

We care about you during business hours AND after business hours. Every patient receives the personal cellphone number of their doctor. Whether emergencies, check-ins, or urgent care, we’re there for you!

Get in contact directly with a doctor who personally knows and cares for you. Your personal doctor is just a click away.

Zero Wait Time For Your Doctor

At other clinics, you wait in a waiting room, waste time filling out forms, and then wait some more for the doctor in the clinical rooms. At Healing Grove, you don’t wait for the doctor. The doctor is waiting for you!

Personal Relationship With Your Doctor

At Healing Grove, we build a personal relationship with you. We want to know what makes you tick, what you care about, and what you’re struggling with. We want to know about you and your family.

Connected To The US Healthcare System

When you need more than primary care, we guide you through the system. The US healthcare system is incredibly difficult to navigate, but our doctors have decades of combined experience in helping patients find the care they need. We use our relationships and personal networks to get you the very best healthcare available. Our doctors have the time to advocate for you – providing referrals, making phone calls, and even checking in to make sure you’re receiving the proper care.

Healing Grove Health CenterHGHC Annual Membership

$ 200

Per Month
  •  Patients see a doctor
  •  Zero wait for doctor
  • Coordination of specialist care
  • 30-minute to 1-hour appointments
  • Gatherings that offer community
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Holistic medical care
  • Cross-cultural and socio-economic relationship opportunities
  • Supports uninsured low-income patients
  • Spiritual care team

Your Concierge Membership

A concierge medical care plan just for you – all that you need, and nothing you don’t. Healing Grove Health Center accepts HSA, HRA, and FSA.

This covers unlimited primary care, convenient physician access, health system navigation and advocacy, and invitations to our health, soul, and culture care programs. Plus, it gives TWO low-income members access to top-quality primary care!

This also makes a great gift for a loved one with significant health needs. We have a lot of experience working with uninsured people, so we know all of the secret cash-price deals in our area. This plan can be great for people with high-deductible health plans who avoid their doctors because of unreasonable co-pays and hidden fees. We find the most affordable meds, radiology, and lab tests in the South Bay, which are often less expensive than health plan co-pays.

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